UCT CS Research Document Archive

Designing an effective user interface for the Android tablet environment

Chang, Genevieve (2015) Designing an effective user interface for the Android tablet environment. MSc, Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town.

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With over 1.3 million applications on the Android marketplace, there is increasing competition between mobile applications for customer sales. As usability is a significant factor in an application’s success, many mobile developers refer to the Android design guidelines when designing the user interface (UI). These principles help to provide consistency of navigation and aesthetics, with the rest of the Android platform. However, misinterpretation of the abstract guidelines may mean that patterns and elements selected to organise content of an application do not improve the usability. Therefore, usability tests would be beneficial to ensure that an application meets objectives efficiently and improve on user experience. Usability testing is an important and crucial step in the mobile development process Many freelance developers, however, have limited resources for usability testing, even though the advantages of usability feedback during initial development stages are clear and can save time and money in the long-run.
In this thesis, we investigate which method of usability testing is most useful for resource constrained mobile developers. To test the efficacy of Android guidelines, three alternate designs of a unique Android tablet application, Glycano, are developed. High-fidelity paper prototypes were presented to end-users for usability testing and to usability experts for heuristic evaluations.
Both usability and heuristic tests demonstrated that following the Android guidelines aids in user familiarity and learnability. Regardless of the different UI designs of the three mockups, Android guidelines provided an initial level of usability by providing familiarity to proficient users and an intuitiveness of certain patterns to new users. However, efficiency in building Glycano schematics was an issue that arose consistently. Testing with end-users and experts, revealed several navigational problems. Usability experts uncovered more general UI problems than the end-user group, who focused more on the content of the application. More refinements and suggestions of additional features to enhance usability and user experience were provided by the experts. Use of usability experts would therefore be most advantageous in initial design stages of an application. Feedback from usability testing is, however, also beneficial and is more valuable than not performing any test at all.

EPrint Type:Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords:Android Application Development
User interface design
Usability testing
Design guidelines
J Computer Applications: J.8 MISCELLANEOUS
ID Code:1024
Deposited By:Kuttel, Michelle
Deposited On:16 September 2015